Monday, March 12, 2007

Requiem for a Future [Rename; Contra 'Civilization'?...]
[played with; Dec. 2007; sort of dethroned by this slightly more upbeat post]

Our Final Hour-Rees.


The Arrogance of Humanism-Ehrenfeld ; I thought recently that now he's something of an optimist..oh well. The optimist was actually Bill McKibben, who authored a pessimistic End of Nature then wrote in 1995 wrote Hope; Human and Wild (both out in newer editions)

Nature's Revenge-Skinny Puppy

So many of the problems with our answers stem from where they begin; what we think of as problems. Rabindranath Tagore somewhere noted that the origins of western humanism began in the walled cities of greece and the isolation entailed in "reflection" so divorced from nature [an essay touching only lightly on the significance of Avraham Avinu having the very quintessence of 'civilized man', the city-state, facing off with one of the first totalitarian Dictators Nimrod]. I would add that such musings were not divorced from an environment- they were born in a thoroughly human-derived, human contrived environment where reality (in whatever way 'everything' is defined from within human-imposed order, through anthropocentric lenses, etc), is easily viewed as resulting from human or anthropo-morphic ways more like human artifacts than not. The next step is to project that [actual] isolation into the minds of [certain of] the people, 'privileged' to be bound, in mind, to the parameters of the city walls - and 'ground', and sounds, etc..because after all, beyond the city, beyond industry and concrete and lightbulbs there are people 'we' call savages (in part from here);

"Freud went so far as to regard the human mind as freakish, as purely accidental and perhaps not natural in the sense that it would someday give a return to the unconscious state [being an unbeliever, he can't believe that we are in a state distinct from the rest of creation, whether we evolved or not - so he can't but think of it as a 'return'] to the inert state. Now the problem with that is that it has left us with a severely under-dimensioned psychology, a psychology in which the human mind does not connect with the natural environment [something R. Soloveitchik does seem to agree with in "Emergence of Ethical Man"; but perhaps galut circumstances militate for a denial of multi-tiered dimensionality that makes for 'transcendence', depending on where you are among the tiers - establishing strong ontological borders to prevent wondering, digressions, apostasy, etc]. And it is therefore treated wholly within a social context, a family context, perhaps a very personal context but without any outreach to the world beyond -- the non-human world -- that surrounds us out of which we evolved."

"Social", "family" and even "personal" are sort of left undefined by Roczak here - which could mean he unconsciously accepts definitions that having meaning from within the setting he criticizes ...relationships within Creation are above in the Freudian sense (and seemingly those who unconsciously accept them), limited to the anthropocentric modalities. but the notion of a world 'beyond' is a very point R. Soloveitchik seems to critique as well. I suggest it's all 'Here' being Creation, which includes for most of historical Judaism - physical and immaterial Briot (modernist self-proclaimed Talimidei Rambam aside). To a real degree I think Judaism has thoroughly assimilated (or 'merely' shared), such Freudian and related notions, not unlike R. Soloveitchik here, and cannot imagine human society or place in nature to be anything other than the experience of the modern West (intellectually as well as society, technology, politics, etc) - which [a truly mangled metaphor] dangles in two dimensions within a web it spends much of it's time trying to cut down, feeding off of the North, South and East. Becoming Hellenized, and the "humanizing" of our environments was obviously not experienced only by Jews (many non-Jews joined Bar Kosba...something Jews forget from an episode they strive to remember...). And it didn't just result in "modernism", communism, socialism, etc. Even the most Charedi Torah Judaism has so much of it's identity invested in being in reactionary engagement with Greece - as if there were only Jerusalem and Rome and the 'tightrope' land between, though now we know there are/were many lands and peoples - and we are on a globe (where there are no straight lines between points on its surface). One result of our thoroughly human environments (internally and externally), is that we can't help but think that if HKBH "created" the universe/Gave The Torah, etc, He simply must have done so in a very humanly-recognizable fashion, that it must be exhaustively discernible in accord with rules that bind human potential to even grasp such a thing, etc. Perhaps comes an ontological "crash" when we come to find out that...God is God!...not a human being. For modernists, the Throne of That-which-is-Noncontingent is thought to be vacant - so we relapse to the Void, to onological nihilism and "__ Without Foundations" and such (which I think has occurred in the Torah world with Tamar Ross, et al, whom it seems adopts an addiction to Cartesian standards for certainty and adopts also the lamentations associated with their ill-fit with reality). And we think our problems are merely Greek, or can be addressed within antiquated modalities in accord with an outmoded dichotomy...

We say, like so much lip service, that Moshiach could have come in every generation, etc...but do we really believe it? "At the end of the day...what self-respecting Moshiach would have come about in any space-time point or world-line other than the Modern West?", which happens to be - 'Now'?..." Perhaps Messianic excesses are excuses for always-latent drives to exercise Emergency Powers that define and expand 'executive' powers beyond The Founder's['] stipulations - perhaps this is what I see in the tendency of Chardal to dowse 'counterproductive' self-criticism of Israel's policies, rabbinic enactments, rash actions, and kiruv leaps of 'faith'?...when did it become un-Jewish to do chesbon? And speaking of crashes, could Orthodoxy, like any other of the movements, actually survive the collapse of all this Modern infrastructure - not just the intellectual underpinings of Modernism - while being thoroughly modernist as reactionaries, plenty of charedim claim to do without 'modernisms' - I mean societal, economic, environmental, political infrastructure. These things are wed together! I think there is a profound and unconscious sense of reliability, certainty and ubiquity (all of which, cumulatively, is how distinguishable from arrogance?...), that comes with the all-permeating presence of human-crafted world, artifact, of Big Government, of Nanny State (now police state), and manufactured goods and Kashrut Agri-business. Without these, how many people would be able to be, let alone willing to be, religious? What makes it so pitiful is that there exist Torah communities today without any of these unspoken relationships and dependencies and relied-upon foundations for our sense of security. And less than 100 years ago, the majority of communities lived without many of these. This is scary. And when cracks really start to form, we will know where our trust and fear really lay.


At 3/14/2007 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, that was uplifting. You need a hobby. How about horseshoes?


At 5/19/2008 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when people critique speculation and plead for "just the facts" against speculations, internals, etc, they often say "I have enough trouble paying bills, keeping Shabbos without a single questionable act", etc...what seems to be said is matters of praxy over doxy, of being concerned for physical behaviors and concrete, communal structure issues over "extradimensional" stuff.

At 5/19/2008 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..and maybe that is exactly what is behind militating against transcendent, dimensionality, etc. we have enough to worry about thats just "facts on the ground" of galut.


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